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Health & Parenting

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Tired Teens May Be a Smoke Signal for Parents


Similar associations were found for depression and sleep disturbances. Those who became depressed after the first interview, and those who had been depressed and remained so, had nearly double the rate of sleep disturbances reported by smokers.

Patten says that sleep problems may not always be easy for a parent to detect. John L. Carroll, MD, agrees. He says it's typical for teens to sleep past noon or languish away the dog days of summer in a semi-awake state.

"Teens as a group are sleep deprived," Carroll tells WebMD. They have a tendency to stay up late, get up early for school, and in general, he says, they do not get nearly as much sleep as parents perceive. Carroll, who was not involved in the Mayo study, is director of pediatric pulmonary medicine and the Pediatric Sleep Disorder Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock.

Still, Carroll says, a teen who isn't sleeping could be a red flag for parents and physicians to see if the teen may be smoking or depressed.

"It's hard to tell on the one hand. All kids over 10 or 11 want to stay up late, but maybe it's not just that," Carroll tells WebMD. "It could be worth looking closer into; maybe the kid can't go to sleep earlier and is having difficulty sleeping and it's the sign of something else."

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